The most embarrassing thing about being a gamer today is definitely other gamers. We, as a culture, decided somewhere that racism and rampant misogyny was okay because something something, and no one bothered to point out that “something something” isn’t a real argument because we’re all a bunch of whiny, entitled, weirdly racist brats.
Did you hear that, gaming culture? Shut up. You’re acting like a child. Now go to your room. Also, stop being racist.
10. Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2 is a simple game: you hit zombies with things until they die, and you meet wacky characters that you get to save. One of these characters is LaShawndra, a woman of both size and color who, after you meet her, begins immediately complaining, in African-American Vernacular English no less, about how her husband has run off. Through a combination of her sass and… um, more sass, she manages to save her husband’s “skinny ass,” and greets him with a punch in the face and a fake, half-hearted apology.
If you’re keeping track, that’s exactly how stupid white people who have never met a black person think black people act.
9. The Legend of Zelda Series
The Legend of Zelda is a series of video games, started 26 years ago and still going strong. It tells the story of Link, a white dude, who has to save princess Zelda, a white lady, from the villainous, thieving Ganondorf, who is…yeah, you see where this is going. Since the very first Zelda game, the villain has been Ganondorf — and we’re very sorry to do this to you, Zelda fanboys, but Ganondorf is a racist stereotype.
Keep in mind, this isn’t just about one game having one dark-skinned villain- -he’s supposed to be representative of an entire culture. His people, called the “Gerudo,” live in the desert, fight with scimitars and glaives, and oh, they’re all thieves. When you have an entire race depicted as criminals and thieves — and you give that race qualities based on stereotypes of a real world ethnicity — then you’ve dropped the ball somewhere. Somewhere racist. Which is the worst place to drop a ball, because now it’s covered in racism, and that stuff is notoriously hard to wash off.
In the mid-80s, Activision released a Ghostbusters game for the NES, Atari 2600, Sega Master System and the Commodore 64. It featured…
… three…wait, what? That looks odd for some reason. Let’s compare those Busters to the movie.
Oh, that’s right. There’s four of them. Technological limitations must have gotten in the way. I wonder how they decided which one to cut.
7. Resident Evil 5
When Resident Evil 5 was released in 2009, it attracted some controversy for its gameplay, which is made up entirely of a white guy in Africa gunning down diseased black people (the above clip contains the protagonist shouting “the natives are hostile!”). We almost didn’t throw this one up here, since it got so much press when it first came out — but then we realized that a lot of people really didn’t understand the issue, so let’s take this chance to explain it:
Most of RE5′s imagery and motifs are lifted directly from a real-life tragedy occurring in parts of Africa right now, called the AIDS Epidemic. Most of the imagery in this game (visibly sick Africans, crushing poverty) have entered the cultural mindset because of the growing international concern for this epidemic. It’s fine to draw inspiration for horror from reality (in fact, it’s best to do so) but RE5′s posited solution to this problem is killing everyone infected.
Then there’s the difference between this, and previous Resident Evil games. People have argued that, because most of the zombies were white in Resident Evil 1-3, and hispanic in Resident Evil 4, then it’s hypocritical to say it’s only racist when the heroes are killing black people. This argument doesn’t hold up because the United States doesn’t have a history of oppressing and enslaving other white people and, as for the Hispanics well…yeah, that was kind of weird, but Spain doesn’t have the same problem Africa has with being depicted as a war-torn wasteland in American popular culture.
And no, this problem isn’t solved by the inclusion of Sheva.
6. Diablo 3
In Blizzard’s latest click-fest, you choose one of five classes to play as you fight the hordes of Hell. And of those five classes, only one is black — the witch doctor. He speaks in a heavy accent, moves around like an animal, comes from the jungle and looks like every stereotypical witch doctor ever. The only thing he doesn’t do is shrink heads and go OOH-EE-OOH-AH-AH-TING-TANG-WALLA-WALLA-BING-BANG, but that’s likely because Blizzard didn’t want to pay the Seville family any royalties.
This one is less “blatantly offensive” and more just “lazy stereotyping.” If you’re not in the gaming community, you may not realize this but Diablo 3 is a really freaking big game. Diablo 1 and 2 are legendary installments in the dungeon-crawler genre, and this latest installment sold 3.5 million units in the first day. It’s a big, popular, fun game.
The weirdest part is that this is a step back from the preceding entries — Diablo 2 featured a black Paladin character that didn’t play off of any stereotypes of preconceptions. Now, with Diablo 3, if you’re a black gamer and you want an avatar who looks like you, the Witch Doctor is your only option. Hope you like piercings!
5. Spanish for Everyone
Some people would argue that, when teaching Spanish, it’s important to teach the horrifically negative stereotypes associated with the language. Those people are idiots, and also apparently responsible for Spanish For Everyone.
Ostensibly a game designed to teach children Spanish, the gameplay is centered around a white protagonist chasing after Miguel (his hispanic friend) who stole his Nintendo DS. Oh, and Miguel’s father is heavily implied to be a druglord. But Spanish does happen! Sometimes.
4. Freaky Flyers
Cartoons live off of the human brain’s ability to recognize patterns. Bugs Bunny looks nothing like a human being, but viewers recognize the pattern of what a smiling, wacky character is supposed to look like, and their brain automatically fills in the rest.
So what happens if you decide that instead of “wacky character” archetypes, you’re going to go with “racist” archetypes? You get…Freaky Fliers. We’re not going to go through a list of everything wrong with this game because we have lots of other things to get to this week, and honestly the gameplay itself doesn’t matter. We’re just going to leave you to watch the above video, about a billionaire oil magnate from Arabia (zillionaire, depending on the current price of oil), named, naturally, Sheik Abdul.
Wow. Okay. Jynx, huh? Really…really?! Yeah — that was a bad idea.
2. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!!
Racist Video Game lists are almost irresponsibly incomplete without Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. This classic NES game tells the story of a plucky little white dude named Lil’ Mac, who fights his way through an army of racist stereotypes so he can unseat Mike Tyson, a black guy with authority. People have written entire articles about the racism in this one game. Our favorites are Piston Honda, the Japanese Samurai boxer, and Bob Charlie, because that’s almost a joke, right?
1. Call of Juarez: The Cartel
While video game advocates would rather focus on the intellectual and artistic potential of video games, there’s really no denying that the industry is far more familiar with exploring the depths of stupidity — and so we come to Call of Juarez.
CoJ: TC is a game about the Mexican Drug War, and it is pretty much the worst thing to have ever happened to the industry. The game caters blatantly to racist stereotypes by building gameplay mechanics that require you to cut-down wave after wave of black and Latino characters, to the point where they lack any semblance of humanity. One level even features a special “achievement” for killing black people, in a level where your goal is to go into a slum and incite gang warfare. The game even decides that sex-slavery is a great topic for it to tackle, as it depicts the tragedy of a bunch of American women being sold to rich Mexicans. Too bad that, in reality, it’s the exact opposite.